Afro-American Folksongs - online book

A Study In Racial And National Music, With Sample Sheet Music & Lyrics.

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CHAPTER V
MUSIC AMONG THE AFRICANS
The Many and Varied Kinds of African Slaves
Not All NegroesTheir Aptitude and Love for
MusicKnowledge and .Use of Harmony
Dahomans at ChicagoRhythm and
Drumming—African Instruments
So much for modes and moods. The analytical table in the last chapter showed several variations of both the major and minor scales, and these variations must be examined, for upon them, together with rhythmical and structural characteristics, ftest the idioms which have been referred to as determining the right of the songs of the American negroes to be called original.' These idioms are the crude material which the slaves brought with them from their African homes. This, at least, is the conviction of this writer, and the contention which he hopes to establish by a study of the intervallic and rhythmical peculiarities of the songs and by tracing them to their primitive habitat. Before then, for the sake of orderly argument, it may be well briefly to inquire into the musical aptitude of the Africans who created the idioms. Unfortunately, the inquiry cannot be made as particular as might be desirable, for want of specific evidence.
The slaves in the Southern States were an amalgamation of peoples when the songs came into existence. Though they are spoken of as negroes, there were many among them who were not racially nigritians. The Slave Coast, from which the majority of them were brought to America, was the home of only a fraction of them. Many came from the interior of the continent. There were some Malays from Madagascar, some Moors from the northern portion of the continent. Among the negroes of Africa the diver­sities of tribe are so great that over a score of different languages are spoken by them, to say nothing of dialects.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III